Fundamentally looking forward to the #BaezTag.

Pitchers and Catchers Report.
The Cubs.
It's getting closer.
And of allllll the things to get excited about, one of them is newish and rather small, but it's definitely a thing:
The Baez Tag.

The incredible fundamental skill turned up to 11 by Javier Baez.
This painting is from Game 5 of that last World Series won by the Cubs, remember a couple months ago?
That one.
Cubs up 3-1 in the top of the 6th with 2 out and Francisco Lindor gets a single off starter Jon Lester, knocking in Rajai Davis to make it 3-2.
You and I hyperventilate as Lester delivers to Mike Napoli, but then what happens is Lindor takes off for 2nd and old man David Ross is already pissed because Davis had just stolen 2nd before he scored.
He throws.
And Javier Baez slides in front of Lindor and does his thing where he's already moving his glove towards Lindor when he catches the ball, continues it's movement and tags Lindor in the ribs.

Say this out loud: OUT!

One syllable - that's about how much time it takes Baez to tag somebody.
It's almost like Ross just threw the ball at Lindor and hit him in the ribs, only there was that crazy cool middle part you need to see in slo mo to comprehend what Baez did with his amazing glove.
And when you're World Series Warrior Javier Baez and you just tagged a guy for out #3, you go ahead and flash #1 as you run off the diamond while Lindor can think about the "caught" that will be placed in front of the "stealing" in tomorrow's box score.

I mean, I already miss Ross like crazy but next time it'll be Willson Contreras or Miggy Montero or maybe even Kyle Schwarber.
But Baez...
Imagine getting in a slap fight with him.



"You and I hyperventilate as Lester delivers to Mike Napoli, but then what happens is Lindor takes off for 2nd and old man David Ross is already pissed because Davis had just stolen 2nd before he scored." im out of fingers to cross for wilson contreras controlling lester's running game. i hope he's up to the task...kinda shocked there hasn't been a solid "plan B" signed. v.caratini has a good arm, himself, but it's not too far from there's not much of an upgrade outlook there.

I think I am forgetting what your concern is about Contreras. Do you have reason to think his arm isn't strong enough and/or he's not quick enough? My understanding is that those are the strongest parts of his defensive game and that he rates well in both.

strong, yes. accurate, mostly. quick, above average (especially last season where he was quick getting out of the crouch, which was a knock on his minor league D)...but it took a combo of all of that being great which made ross key at controlling lester's running game. that still that left lester with elevated SB totals aside from the 1st half of last season. contreras is the best option (imo, and many others). i just hope it's enough.

I think Willson's best attribute as a catcher (right now) is his ability to control the running game. The part I wonder about is Lester's faith in and comfort level with him. Game calling and receiving are still areas in which he is developing. I like Montero sticking around through the last year of his contract because of his ability to mentor Contreras. But Miggy's arm is shot and I can't see him catching Lester without Jon overcoming his inability to throw to 1st. This is down the road a bit, but I'm already hoping the Rockies sign Wieters this off season and the Cubs pull of a deal for Tony Wolters. He hits lefty to balance out Willson from the right side, has a decent bat and by all accounts is quickly becoming one of the better defensive catchers in baseball. Admittedly, I'm getting a little ahead of myself but I don't have a lot of faith in Caratini providing the type of defense a championship team would want in a 2nd catcher.

The concern I would have with Willson Contreras catching Jon Lester isn't the receiving/throwing part of it, it's the role that David Ross played as an "intermediary" peace-maker between Lester and the home plate umpire, and Ross's ability to calm Lester down whenever he got pissed-off at a ball-strike call. Contreras is a very emotional player, and one thing that really held Contreras back in the minors was a tendency to argue with umpires and even occasionally show-up umpires and opposing players. He can't do that if he catches Lester. And I'm not sure how that will go. If Lester struggles even a little bit the first-half of the season, Contreras will get the blame. It might not be fair, but that's baseball. And if Lester continues to under-perform and if the Cubs need him to step-up so they can make the post-season, I doubt that the Cubs will hesitate to acquire a veteran catcher who can work with Lester. (Miguel Montero can't catch Lester because Montero doesn't throw well enough at this point in his career to overcome Lester's inability to throw to bases). And if they can't find one, I would not be surprised if David Ross suddenly "un-retires" and gets into playing shape, and then gets added to the Cubs MLB Active List in September. As for Victor Caratini, I know last year the Cubs internally rated Contreras-Caratini-Higgins-M. Amaya (plus Will Remillard if he can comeback from his second TJS) as their five best MLB catching prospects. Caratini is a switch-hitter with a really nice line-drive stroke from both sides of the plate. And while he is a good receiver, he had a serious mechanical flaw with his throwing last year at AA Tennessee that was corrected mid-season, and now he throws OK (although there is still a "yellow flag"). Caratini also plays a lot of 1st base and he could play 3B in a pinch (he is a converted third-baseman), so he does fit the profile of an MLB back-up catcher. Caratini has a much-different-type personality than Contreras, more cool & calm, doesn't get too emotional.

hoping some folks here can help me. I'm going to my first ever spring training game on the 4th. I'm hoping to take a baseball with me to get signed by whoever I can. Is there any tips people can share with me here for best way to succeed at that? Is there a time of day before/after the game that is best?

If you have time, consider spending a day (11 am-3 pm, or so) at the Back Fields. They're the biggest bargain in baseball. About 100 kids working out, trying to perfect their game. If you get there the right time of the month, you get two games going at once on side-by-side fields. Go to the Maricopa County Animal Control Center on Rio Salado. Drive right past it, and pull into the parking lot just beyond it. Bring sandwiches and beverages. And look for balls fouled off. Easier to get souvenirs when only thirty out-of-uniform people are watching.

mike ilitch has died. shame the tigers didn't get a WS victory for him.

"Cubs signed RHP Williams Perez to a minor league contract." cubs confirmed for 2017 WS victory. is it 2018 yet?

strop agrees to a 1/5.5m deal. cubs offered 4.6m and he wanted 6m. considering strop made 4.4m last season, a 200K raise in his last arb year probably wasn't gonna fly anyway.

"According to Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports, Sean Rodriguez will undergo left shoulder surgery next week and is expected to miss 3-5 months." doh. he was in a car accident last week and now needs shoulder surgery. he just signed a 2/11.5m deal with the braves to primarily play 2nd. the braves are trying to get brandon phillips (1/14m left) to make up for the temporary loss.

Gatorade coolers of the world, rejoice.

Brandon Phillips to Braves based on them losing original planned utility/2nd baseman Sean Rodriguez to shoulder surgery. Braves only pay $1M of his salary. Former Cubs farmhand, lefty, Andrew McKirahan is one of the pitchers going to Cincy. McK is recovering from March 2016 Tommy John surgery.

In Miami on vacation -- they really don't like Loria down here. $1.6 billion for the Marlins? Yikes.

"Jesse Sanchez of reports that 18-year-old Cuban left-hander Osvaldo Hernandez has been declared a free agent by Major League Baseball and is now free to sign with any team of his choosing." half of MLB is supposed to be in on the dude, but not much about the cubs has been linked in rumors. also, the rays have given n.eovaldi a 1/2m contract even though he's expected to miss 2017.

Ken Rosenthal @Ken_Rosenthal Sources: #Cubs have made offers to Travis Wood. #Padres, two other teams remain in mix. Ken Rosenthal ‏@Ken_Rosenthal Wood would start for #Padres, be a swingman for #Cubs, possibly start for other clubs, sources say. #Yankees not in mix. ...evidently the cubs are trying to go with a 17 man pitching crew this season.

Travis as a 4th OF and pinch-hitter. I like it.

AZ PHIL: Do you have any insight on whether Duensing's contract is guaranteed or is his one that if he's let go by a certain date during spring training he only gets a percentage of his $2 million? Also, since he was signed as a free agent, he can't be traded before June 15th, is that correct? Thanks!

K-DUB: As a post-2016 Article XX-B free-agent who signed a major league contract, Brian Duensing has full "no trade" rights through June 15th. (The "no trade" right also means he cannot be placed on Outright Assignment Waivers). Duensing can waive this right, but if he does, he can be traded for cash and/or player contract(s) with a maximum aggregate value of $50,000. As far as I know it is a standard fully-guaranteed contract, so the Cubs are on the hook for entire $2M, minus a prorated portion of the MLB minimum salary if Duensing is released by the Cubs and - IF - he subsequently signs a major league contract with another MLB club. The 2017 MLB minimum salary is $535K, so the Cubs could be on the hook for "only" $1.465M if they release Duensing during Spring Training and he subsequently signs a major league contract with another MLB club prior to MLB Opening Day. So if the Cubs sign another better LHRP (like Travis Wood), I doubt that they would keep Duensing around past Spring Training just because of the $2M salary liability that could actually be only $1.465M. It's possible (but not likely) that Duensing would agree to be optioned to the minors (he has options left), but because he is an Article XIX-A player (he has accrued at least five years of MLB Service Time), Duensing must give his consent before he can be sent to the minors. And if he declines, the Cubs would either have to keep him on the MLB 25-man roster or release him, unless he agrees to waive his "no trade" right and the Cubs find a club who wants him and who is acceptable to Duensing. Remember, Duensing is nothing more just a run-of-the-mill journeyman MLB LHRP (he was released by Kansas City at the end of Spring Training last year), so it's not like he is going to be in great demand if the Cubs can't find a spot for him in the pen and he gets released. If he (and his agent) understand that and if he likes the idea of maybe getting called up to Chicago later in the season, he could conceivably consent to a minor league assignment (again, not likely, but possible). If the Cubs re-sign Travis Wood, I would say the most-likely scenario would be the Cubs will release Duensing prior to Opening Day, and then if he can't find an MLB gig someplace else, the Cubs would offer him a minor league contract with an opt-out or two during the season, and a promise that (if healthy) he will get called up to Chicago no later than September 1st if he doesn't opt-out in the meantime. As I have said here before, Travis Wood is the Ben Zobrist of a Joe Maddon pitching staff, an athletic rubber-armed lefty who can work out of the bullpen, make a spot-start, PR, PH, and even play LF in a pinch.

Thanks, Phil. The depth of your knowledge on roster and contract workings is a terrific resource. Thanks for taking the time to answer in such detail.

Also, David Rollins should find out today if he got claimed off waivers for the 6th time this off-season, or if the Cubs secured waivers and sent him outright to AAA Iowa (with an NRI to Spring Training). Give this man some peace!

Bruce Miles ‏@BruceMiles2112 LHP David Rollins clears waivers and will be in #Cubs big-league camp as a non-roster player.

wow. it finally ends. good for him...kinda.

David Rollins will remain under club control through the 2018 season (presuming he isn't traded, released, or selected in the December 2017 Rule 5 Draft). Same goes for Dylan Floro (was sent outright to the minors ten days ago). Neither Rollins nor Floro had the right to elect free-agency if outrighted, and neither will have enough minor league service time to be declared a minor league 6YFA post-2017. BTW, David Rollins and Dylan Floro will be making the same money as an NRI at Spring Training as they would have made if they had remained on the MLB 40-man roster, and their 2017 salaries at AAA Iowa will be equal to the minor league "split" salary in their tendered 2017 major league contracts (2017 minor league "split" salary estimates would be about $175K for Rollins and about $100K for Floro).

Is recently released C AJ Jimenez worth looking at as an Iowa-Chicago toggle guy? Or do the Cubs have that "ripcord backup catcher" position filled? At least, until Caratini is ready in (hopefully) August. Now is a great time to add a new catcher, it would seem.

I think Carlos Corporan and Ali Solis fit that mold

TIM: While the Cubs could certainly stand an upgrade at Iowa for the "veteran catcher stashed at AAA slot," I don't think A. J. Jimenez is that guy. A better option than Carlos Corporan could become available at the end of Spring Training, however. BTW, something to keep in mind about Carlos Corporan is that if he were to be added to the Cubs MLB 40-man roster (and 25-man roster) at some point in 2017, he would have one minor league option left, and he does not have enough MLB Service Time to decline an Optional Assignment. So if & when he's added to the 40, Corporan could be sent back & forth to Iowa like a yo-yo (something the Cubs could not do last season with Tim Federowicz because Federowicz was out of minor league options).

Which is why I asked. Thanks, as always.

cubs report day is tomorrow for pitchers/catchers...some guys have shown up early (arrieta/davis/schwarb/almora/jay/etc). there's pics around the web/twitter/etc. i'm ready for some meaningless spring baseball!

Beats the hell out of meaningless NFL football or NBA baseball in Chicago.

Recently-signed RHSP Williams Perez (ex-ATL) did get an NRI to Spring Training, so with David Rollins getting an NRI after being outrighted, that makes 26 NRI (including 16 pitchers).

Travis Wood to Royals

2 year deal...good for him. looks like t.wood vs n.karns competing for the 5th starter slot.


Too bad Travis Wood won't get many at bats in the AL, unless he replaces Soler for defense.

Think the Royals are banking on the reversal of the ex-Cubs factor with the Cubs WS championship?

Zing! Cubster for the win.

STL's fun offseason continues... "Alex Reyes underwent an MRI on his pitching arm on Tuesday morning." woo. of course this just means that some random non-ranked organizational prospect will throw cy young quality baseball as a replacement...because it's STL.

Wow -- that could be huge. Maybe his body hasn't fully adjusted to non-PED status.

Jeff Passan @JeffPassan There is significant concern inside the Cardinals' organization that Alex Reyes, their star pitching prospect, needs Tommy John surgery.

Confirmed TJS done for season per ESPN

Gee that's too bad. Is Shelby Miller available?

"Montero heads into 2017 in a reserve role, and he's making the best of it. "I'm here to do my job, it's as simple as that," Montero said on Wednesday prior to the first workout for pitchers and catchers. "Whatever it is, I'm here to do my job. At the end of the day, I'm going to still be with my players and my teammates, so whatever happens, I've got their back. The most important thing is my teammates.""

Schwarber cleared to catch Now if he can hold the ball in his update

Baseball Star Kris Bryant Gets Pranked by Hall of Famer Greg Maddux

Hi-larious. I'd like him for a #5.

first televised cubs ST game this weekend

future 1st ballot HOF'r matt murton signs a minor league deal with the tigers.

Bueno for Murton

They needed a catcher and...Wieters signs a 2 yr deal with Nats. $10K this yr, $11K next (but can opt out after this year). (oops, forgot Welly is an Oriole) (oops, got my K's and M's bassackwards)

Wow. $10"K" is damn cheap! $10MM would be really something. As IF Wieters could ever get that!

Wow. $10"K" is damn cheap! $10MM would be really something. As IF Wieters could ever get that! Ha. Anyway - he is not what he used to be. Its a good thing Josh Vitters was selected before him in the draft that year at #3. That worked out well.

a lot of people thought wieters wouldn't last at C. he was (still is) a 6'5" bulky dude. he not only lasted, he's pretty damn good at all aspects behind the plate except that weirdly magic "pitch framing" thing...though he's losing a touch of that good behind the plate when it comes to stopping some wild ones.

Glad the error got fixed. Thanks.

No more 4-pitch intentional walks. Just point. OK, I guess. Not a big deal for me.

woo! the gameplay length issue is finally solved! that extra 45-60 seconds should easily bring another 50-100 million viewers to the game. but yeah, no huge deal. give it a few years and most people that care probably won't notice. i'm not a fan of getting rid of the traditional intentional walk, but still...meh...whatever.

I'm not really sure how much time it will actually save. My son's high school league had this rule, but it took so long to communicate that the team wanted an intentional walk, and for the hitter to understand what was going on, it was probably about the same amount of time as lobbing 4 pitches.

My theory is that this move is less about saving a ton of game time and more about sending a message to the players that the league wants to start cutting the dead space out of the game, with or without their cooperation. They can't get rid of the commercial breaks, and they can't and shouldn't get rid of the game action. But there is a cumulative 20-30 minutes in each game where the batter is fixing his batting gloves or the pitcher is walking around the mound or staring at the catcher or where the batter is asking for an extra timeout because the pitcher stood there too long. It adds up to make the pace of play lethargic. When I watch a full game from the mid-20th century, that's the biggest difference I notice. Sure, the commercial breaks are each 35 seconds longer now, but I don't really care. It's the lack of action during the game that gives the game its slow reputation now, in my opinion. And if the only practical solution is a pitch clock, I'd rather have that then some half-baked ruled limiting pitching changes or starting a runner on second base or other crazy, game-altering nonsense. I'm one of the biggest baseball fans I know, and a Cubs fan, and I literally fell asleep during the playoffs last year trying to survive Pedro Baez. Can you imagine the sport 50 years from now where everyone pitched like Baez? Who would watch? It's time for baseball to tighten it up. So that's how I came to be on board with the idea of a pitch clock.

The dumbing down of the game begins

speaking of rule changes, i'm just over here waiting on multi-ball.

If you really want to save some time, stop running out the home runs. Hit one and walk back to the dugout. It's how the softball leagues work around here. 7 inning in 45 minutes. And only 2 strikes, 3 balls, only one foul. Not sure how the mat call for a strike will work though.

not a big fan of removing "highlight reel" moments from the game. sure, most are unnecessary, but a bottom 9th walk off or a "kirk gibson" WS HR, etc etc... sometimes fans aren't even done cheering when the base circling is done. it's one of the most common "curtain call" moments. the biggest hole to plug seems to be the time between pitches. shaving 5 seconds off each pitch could shorten the game by 20+ minutes (assuming 250+ pitches a game between pitchers on both sides).

Sammy with some truly remarkable quotes. Compares himself to Jesus, and claims to have put Chicago on the map.

lastella and bryant... im a bit surprised lastella is still a cub. i would have figured he would have gotten shipped out to a team that would give him a chance to get full time or near full time play. unless there's injuries or his talent breaks out, lastella will be lucky to see 300PA.

Why trade for a guy that's threatened to quit if he's traded?

When you thought you couldn't live this team anymore

read this one earlier today and read it again...quality piece. TPT is churning out some really quality stuff, both the openness of the subjects and the ability of the writers/editors.

d.ross has a book coming...expected to drop in may (tentatively). fyi...

"Cubs OF prospect Eloy Jimenez said that he hopes to make the Opening Day roster. "I think [it’s possible]. All I’ve got to do is play good and prove to them that I’m ready to play, and see what happens," Jimenez said through a Spanish language interpreter." aww...that's so cute.

Trying to imagine what he would have to bat this spring to make the team. Probably .900.

it'll be interesting if he makes a case sometime in 2017 that he's going to be full-time 2018-ready. the RF'r is a GG'r who's locked down for quite a while...the LF'r is pretty much just a LF'r (maybe a 1st and technically a C, but 1st is strongly spoken for and hahahah etc as far as him playing C) and he's got a lot of club control left. not a bad situation to be in...still interesting.

Love the enthusiasm...but, umm, Eloy, not a lot of guys jump from Low-A to the majors in one step. Dominate at High-A and AA this year, and force the Cubs hand -- Heyward to CF in 2018.

heyward to CF would be ideal if keeping the team together is desired. he's not as slick with his routes in CF, but he's capable of decent play. i'm looking forward to seeing what eloy can do, but i wouldn't be upset to not see him around regularly until 2019/2020.

If Heyward has a couple of good seasons, he could opt out after 2018 at age 29. He'd only need to top 5/106 at that point.

Probably not before he plays at Myrtle Beach (Carolina League, A+). A few of those games will be in my neck of the woods.

"play good" ... through a Spanish language interpreter. Sigh. Answered a handful of Cubs prospect questions this afternoon.

"Cubs manager Joe Maddon confirmed Thursday that Kyle Schwarber is the clear frontrunner to bat leadoff." okay, then. *shrug* stronger bats getting more ABs, sure. hopefully this doesn't open up a return to the "pitcher hits 8th" stuff, though.

Yes pitcher will be batting 8th in this scenario


Whatever Maddon is doing at the start of the season, he'll be doing something different by June or July and have some wacky justification for that, too. 

Guess he really doesn't want to bat Zobrist leadoff. But, a first inning of Schwarber/KB/Rizzo? Better be watching from the first pitch!

i'm about it. stack all the good stuff up front. bring it.

I also like the idea of cramming as many reps into Schwarber's starts as possible, since he'll probably get plenty of rest and he's already missed a year's worth of game experience.

..and, assuming he gets subbed out for defense in close games, it's the best way to maximize his offensive impact.

Schwarber/Bryant/Rizzo worked out pretty well last time I saw it.

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  • crunch 33 min 5 sec ago (view)

    he -really- needs to cue into this is a cubs broadcast and not a national/neutral broadcast.

    dude...don't get excited about marlins 3-run homers.


  • crunch 2 hours 6 sec ago (view)

    lot of people wanted him when len left.  he's got a long game calling history, but not too much for baseball.  he did host "baseball tonight" for ESPN for a quite a while, so the game isn't a mystery to him.

    i find him a bit boring/dry.  some people like that he has that oldschool "announcer voice" thing going on.


  • Dolorous Jon Lester 2 hours 18 min ago (view)

    He's uhhh.. not very good at it. Glad he wasn't the hire for the main role.


  • crunch 2 hours 32 min ago (view)

    wow...chris myers calling the cubs game for some reason (boog out for the MIA series).

    he is a marquee talent, but he's not been used to call a game as far as i know.

    also, zach davies looks like a kid in pajamas in those dark blue "wrigleyville" uniforms.


  • crunch 1 day 1 hour ago (view)

    t.williams threw a 25 pitch pen thursday


  • crunch 1 day 3 hours ago (view)

    tonight's game (thursday) is free game, btw.


  • Arizona Phil 1 day 5 hours ago (view)

    The Cubs have optioned RHP Robert Stock back to AAA Iowa, and recalled LHP Brad Wieck. 


  • Arizona Phil 1 day 5 hours ago (view)

    The Cubs have purchased the contract of RHSP Mike Hauschild (ex-TOR) from Lexington (Atlantic League) and he has been asigned to AAA Iowa. 

    The Cubs are clearly beating the bushes of indepenent league baseball. Hauschild is the sixth player acquired by the Cubs from independent league teams in the last month (Jose Almonte, Tyler Ladendorf, Tim Susnara, Matt Warkentin, and Jarod Wright are the other five). 


  • crunch 1 day 7 hours ago (view)

    (c) hendricks gives up at least 60 homers in the regular season

    seriously, though...wisdom has "slowed down" the past 10 days or so, but he still managed a couple homers.  he's got a damn good shot at 20+ even if bote+duffy come back to steal a little time from him.


  • Charlie 1 day 7 hours ago (view)

    This Mets series is going poorly, so... off-topic question. Which of these outcomes do you currently think is more likely in 2021: (a) Javy hits at least 40 homeruns in the regular season, (b) Patrick Wisdom hits at least 20 homeruns in the regular season.


  • crunch 2 days 2 hours ago (view)

    wow...and he's done for the night.  that's not good...well, for mets fans.

    "right shoulder soreness"


  • crunch 2 days 2 hours ago (view)

    meanwhile...degrom with 8 Ks through 3 perfect innings.  he's also got a RBI single.


  • crunch 2 days 3 hours ago (view)

    and d.smith gets HBP.

    this is high end next level strategy.  you beat degrom by injuring everyone until they have to forfeit the game.  moneyballs.


  • crunch 2 days 3 hours ago (view)

    ow...villar got nailed in the ear and the back of the head by a throw from lobaton on a stolen base.


  • Arizona Phil 2 days 3 hours ago (view)

    CHARLIE: You are absolutely right.

    Granted there are existing rules prohibiting pitchers from using foreign substances, but you don't change enforcement protocols suddenly in the middle of the season. Pitchers should be given an opportunity to make adjustments during the course of Spring Training before any new enforcement policy is implememted.

    This can and should be addressed in the upcoming CBA negotiations. Not now. 


  • Charlie 2 days 4 hours ago (view)

    That was definitely my position prior to this year. But I am starting to buy into the claim that almost all pitchers are using something, even if it is rosin and sunscreen in many cases.